How big employers can #TalkMoney in a high debt landscape

Sarah Churchman, PwC Jane Portas, PwC

Sarah Churchman, chief wellbeing and inclusion officer at PwC, and Jane Portas, insurance partner and financial inclusion leader at PwC discuss why, with household debt set to rise, there’s more reason than ever for employers to #TalkMoney, and how PwC do it.

Talking about money, particularly one’s own finances, has often been seen as a bit taboo.  It’s one of those complicated subjects that risks being boring and awkward all at once.

UK debt will reach £6.7 trillion by 2023, matching the levels seen during the financial crisis.

Perhaps that’s why so many of us squirrel the topic to the back of the metaphorical drawer.  The trouble is that neglect simply makes the problem worse.

New figures on UK debt

Stark new research published by PwC this week hits home the importance of encouraging open dialogue about money matters.

The analysis predicts UK debt will reach £6.7 trillion by 2023, matching the levels seen during the financial crisis.

While the government is likely to continue to reduce the size of its debt relative to GDP, households and companies are both expected to borrow at a faster rate than economic growth.

The role of big employers in a high debt landscape

Clearly policies and regulation are one way to put the breaks on lending and mitigate rising debt levels, but it’s also important to improve awareness around managing household finances.  We believe large employers like ourselves have an important role to play here.

Households and companies are both expected to borrow at a faster rate than economic growth.

Financial wellbeing is closely linked to mental wellbeing, another topic that people often find it difficult to talk about, particularly at work.  Open discussion and support around these issues can help remove the stigma and encourage people to seek help and advice.

Any responsible employer would recognise this as the right thing to do, and it also engenders loyalty and makes for a better, more productive workplace.

How PwC #TalkMoney in the workplace

Resources and benefits

So as part of our broad wellbeing programme, we’re being vocal about personal finance and equipping our people with support and information to help them better manage their finances and navigate key milestones. For example, we have a financial wellbeing hub which offers a range of resources in varied formats, including podcasts and videos.

Any responsible employer would recognise this as the right thing to do, and it also engenders loyalty and makes for a better, more productive workplace.

We run online seminars on pertinent issues and also give our people access to third parties for specialist help.   For example, all our people have free access to Canopy, an organisation offering a deposit-free rental insurance policy and support to improve their credit score.  Our benefits also include free ‘mortgage surgeries’.

Corporate social responsibility

Of course people working for large employers have a massive head start.  It’s the low income households that are most vulnerable and where help is needed most.  Improving social mobility and financial inclusion go hand in hand, and are big focus areas for us as a firm, and for many of our clients.

We want to use our bandwidth and work with schools, colleges and communities to help make a difference.  It’s also why Talk Money Week is so powerful – bringing together the work of all sorts of organisations to improve financial know-how and capability. We need to work together, and spur each other on to do more. Getting people to talk more about money is an important start.

Next steps for collective impact

Explore The Financial Capability Strategy for adults of working age and these resources for employers to co-ordinate your efforts with others. 

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